Secrets of the Gardens

A breath of fresh air

We’re all soaking up the sunshine here at the AMPM offices. Glancing out the conference room window, we never get tired of seeing this season’s lush leaves and blue skies. Michigan gets to show off during these warmer months. While winter can often keep most of us cooped up indoors, Mother Nature beckons us to come out and play during summer. It’s time to go outside.

Before you tackle your yard to-dos and summer soccer camps, gather your family and friends and take some time to enjoy Mother Nature. Where should you head to first?

We vote for Whiting Forest of Dow Gardens.

This wooded wonderland is the new home to the nation’s longest canopy walk, which stretches over 1,400 feet long and stands at 40 feet tall. What an amazing addition to this community, thanks in part to The Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Memorial Foundation. The Foundation is celebrating its 150th anniversary: a significant milestone full of meaning in Midland. The existence of the Foundation represents more than a century of growth and additions to help make this community a thriving place for modern explorers to land.

“I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship”

We were proud to partner with the Foundation, which gave us the opportunity to play a role in shining a light and sharing creativity with the community through the rebranding of Dow Gardens. We got the chance to be included from the ground (forest) floor of the Whiting Forest Canopy Walk construction.

Part of this project gave us access to Herbert H. Dow’s personal journals carefully preserved by the Midland Historical Society. The journals date back to the 1900s and cover nearly 30 years of Dow’s passion projects and inner musings.

The more you know…

Here are five fascinating and entertaining finds we stumbled upon after many hours of studying his journals.

  1. There’s a cow buried on the Dow property. Yup. A cow. We came across this unique detail while poring over Dow’s journal pages. Dow took careful notes about the measurements of where things were located, as well as the type of soil makeup. While taking a look at his entries, we noticed a small note made in between the measurements that reads ”Buried cow here near 1915.“ And get this: Dow’s notes are so detailed that you could probably get the general idea of where the cow’s burial site is located today.
  2. Herbert H. Dow was big into apples. The founder of The Dow Chemical Company certainly knew chemistry, but did you know he also had a passion for plants? Specifically fruit trees. He kept meticulous journal details about growing his apple trees. He created his own orchard almanac of sorts by tracking the weather, the bloom and ripe dates and the types of apples he planted.
  3. Dow kept a “Catalog of Croaking.” Well, he didn’t exactly call it a Catalog of Croaking, but he was dedicated to marking the date of when the frogs starting singing again in the spring. He kept this up for decades. Want to know when the frogs began their spring symphony in, say, 1910? Check out Dow’s journals. It’s interesting to compare the dates and times to something that continues every spring to this day. Mother Nature is quite consistent.
  4. Some of Dow’s original trees are still standing. When we were on site for this project, one of the arborists showed us a pear tree that Dow actually planted decades ago. It stands over 70 feet tall today. One of his original apple trees is also still growing on the property.
  5. Protecting the trees was an extreme priority. This project was an enormous undertaking in terms of construction. Bridges were built to connect Dow Gardens and Whiting Forest. The longest canopy walk in the country was constructed. Despite the size and scope, only six trees were removed. Six! The planning team made it a top priority to ensure the existing trees were as protected and preserved as possible. To do this, large sheets of special panels were brought in for the equipment to drive over so the root systems were not disturbed.

A bridge between brands

We feel honored to have played a part in the Dow Gardens rebranding and helping introduce the canopy walk at Whiting Forest to the world. If you’d like to see Dow’s handwritten and transcribed notes for yourself, as well as other related artifacts, make sure to put Dow Gardens and Whiting Forest on your must visit” list this summer.

You can also read our case study to learn more about our involvement with Dow Gardens and Whiting Forest.